Artwork for podcast The Action Catalyst
Blackout Punch, with Chris Hunter (Entrepreneurship, Food and Beverage, Business, Leadership)
Episode 46225th June 2024 • The Action Catalyst • Southwestern Family of Podcasts
00:00:00 00:30:06

Share Episode

Shownotes

We’re going loko!  Chris Hunter, founder of several successful beverage brands, including the iconic Four Loko as well as the health-focused Koia, and the unique Not Your Father's Root Beer, shares insights from his memoir, “Blackout Punch: an Entrepreneur’s Journey from Chaos to Clarity”, including the gap in the market that he identified that led to the creation of Four Loko, what they SHOULD have done at the very beginning to avoid disaster later, how the role of Founder/CEO is ill-defined (and why that's a good thing), hunters vs. gatherers in sales, fighting the government to keep Four Loko legal, creating Not Your Father’s Root Beer, what success means as a younger man versus now, and the value of knowing you’re going to be wrong but taking the first step anyways.

Transcripts

Adam Outland:

Today's guest is Chris Hunter, the founder of

Adam Outland:

several successful beverage brands, including Four Loko and

Adam Outland:

Not Your Father's Root Beer. His new memoir, Blackout Punch: An

Adam Outland:

Entrepreneurs Journey From Chaos to Clarity, tells the story. How

Adam Outland:

are you? Good to meet ya.

Chris Hunter:

Good to meet you as well.

Adam Outland:

You're hailing from Miami right now. But where

Adam Outland:

did where did you grow up?

Chris Hunter:

Yeah, good suspicion than I didn't

Chris Hunter:

originally grew up in Miami. I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio.

Chris Hunter:

Historically, if you look back generations of my family, it's

Chris Hunter:

probably that there were a lot of Italian and Irish immigrants

Chris Hunter:

that were working in the steel mills. You know, Youngstown was

Chris Hunter:

once a booming metropolis for at a time top 10 city. Once the

Chris Hunter:

steel mills closed, and the and the auto manufacturers started

Chris Hunter:

shuttering this the city just got decimated. So I remember

Chris Hunter:

growing up and my great grandmother had these pictures

Chris Hunter:

of like Youngstown as this hotspot, right downtown was

Chris Hunter:

thriving, people were all over. And I'm like, Where is this

Chris Hunter:

place? Because I didn't know any of that.

Adam Outland:

Yeah, you know, I can't imagine we're going to

Adam Outland:

talk about like your whole, successful commercial

Adam Outland:

enterprises. But I'm always kind of curious. Usually, you know, a

Adam Outland:

high schooler, or even a young recent graduate isn't

Adam Outland:

necessarily thinking like, Man, I'm going to start all these

Adam Outland:

amazing beverage companies. I gotta, I got to know what were

Adam Outland:

you on the track to do? Or what were you thinking you were going

Adam Outland:

to do?

Chris Hunter:

I don't know that I had a big, aspirational kind

Chris Hunter:

of career path. Except for that I was like, I want to be rich.

Chris Hunter:

And growing up in a lower middle class family, like you recognize

Chris Hunter:

the restraints that money can put on a on a family. And I was

Chris Hunter:

fortunate that I got into a couple classes that were they

Chris Hunter:

call them advanced classes, they were really just opportunities

Chris Hunter:

to think outside the box, I got to do an internship when I was

Chris Hunter:

in like fifth grade, like all these unique things. And I feel

Chris Hunter:

like it opened my eyes to like, what I want to do isn't here, or

Chris Hunter:

at least isn't present in my life. I don't know what it is

Chris Hunter:

just gonna be something different. That coupled with the

Chris Hunter:

fact that I always had this entrepreneurial spirit. It's

Chris Hunter:

kind of like I could figure this out, I'll find unique ways to

Chris Hunter:

make money that excite me, propelled me into what I ended

Chris Hunter:

up doing. I could not have mapped out my career path,

Chris Hunter:

though. What was the first business venture for you? Yeah,

Chris Hunter:

I mean, you can go way, way back and say the first business

Chris Hunter:

venture was, you know, being a first grader coloring pictures

Chris Hunter:

out of a coloring book and selling them door to door. I did

Chris Hunter:

that right. But but really more and there's many of those

Chris Hunter:

examples along the way. But maybe more officially was in

Chris Hunter:

college, there were three businesses that I started. One

Chris Hunter:

was never really structured as a business, but it was actually

Chris Hunter:

the largest. And it was cold fusion projects, which ended up

Chris Hunter:

being my, the parent company of for logo. And it was a it was a

Chris Hunter:

promotions business. So I would do nightlife promotions, mainly

Chris Hunter:

in Columbus, but in other cities across the country. It paid

Chris Hunter:

really well. It was a heck of a job for a college student, you

Chris Hunter:

know, bring people together, especially out of the bar and

Chris Hunter:

nightclub. And I met a lot of people. The other business I

Chris Hunter:

started, which was actually with one of my fusion projects,

Chris Hunter:

partners was called Wild havens. And the idea was that we were

Chris Hunter:

going to give people access to unique and exclusive events in

Chris Hunter:

different cities or locations around the world. And we put a

Chris Hunter:

little effort into them, probably lasted about a year,

Chris Hunter:

and then we shut that down. And then the third was, was a

Chris Hunter:

magazine. We started in Columbus with some different partners. It

Chris Hunter:

was centered around four main aspects of the city. It was

Chris Hunter:

entertainment, it was personality, I forget the other

Chris Hunter:

two, but you get the idea. It was a free publication. That's

Chris Hunter:

really where I started, like learning a little more about

Chris Hunter:

business. And then then I moved to Chicago was just trying to

Chris Hunter:

figure out how to pay my bills and ultimately took a job and

Chris Hunter:

then started fusion projects.

Adam Outland:

What did you learn in the events business about

Adam Outland:

what you liked and didn't like?

Chris Hunter:

I loved working with people, right? I loved

Chris Hunter:

interacting with people. I'm a social guy by nature. I felt

Chris Hunter:

like it was really eye opening the impact of relationships,

Chris Hunter:

right how much they matter and how many doors they can open.

Chris Hunter:

One of the things I didn't like was for the future. You know, it

Chris Hunter:

was obviously young and single at that time. But that's a very

Chris Hunter:

grueling career path nights and weekends. And, and so I wasn't

Chris Hunter:

sure that that was the right right path for me. At the time,

Chris Hunter:

I probably wouldn't have said that. But looking back, that was

Chris Hunter:

a good pivot.

Adam Outland:

The best thing ever!

Chris Hunter:

It was amazing. Yeah, so go to Chicago and I

Chris Hunter:

refuse to get a nine to five type gig I ignorantly felt like

Chris Hunter:

my experience was more than that, right, I wasn't going to

Chris Hunter:

take some entry level corporate job. And that was fine. In

Chris Hunter:

theory until a couple months in, I had credit card debt racked up

Chris Hunter:

and is like I got to figure out a way to pay bills. And you

Chris Hunter:

know, what really tipped tip, the scale was there was one day

Chris Hunter:

where I could not pay rent, and my now wife, girlfriend at the

Chris Hunter:

time, cut me a check to cover rent. And I was like, Man, I

Chris Hunter:

really got to do something. Now, while though I had met these

Chris Hunter:

guys who were doing this hail damage gig, basically, like

Chris Hunter:

storm chasing, they'd go to neighborhoods that were

Chris Hunter:

impacted, and they would, you know, facilitate the roof

Chris Hunter:

repairs that are all making a ton of money. It's like, I'm

Chris Hunter:

going to take this job. And you know, you didn't need any

Chris Hunter:

qualifications. The funny thing, the ironic thing of that is I'm

Chris Hunter:

afraid of heights. So I'm climbing on roofs. But you know,

Chris Hunter:

necessity or desperation, whatever you want to call it

Chris Hunter:

will make you do some interesting things. And that was

Chris Hunter:

one of them. And I never lost the contest. I'd never lost the

Chris Hunter:

contract because I needed the money. But I didn't want to do

Chris Hunter:

that for long. Yeah, from my promotions career, I had

Chris Hunter:

collected a lot of contacts and business cards. One of them was

Chris Hunter:

a guy that was involved in a startup vodka company. And long

Chris Hunter:

story short, I bugged him literally email and call every

Chris Hunter:

day. And so he gave me a job. And that's what got me into

Chris Hunter:

beverages.

Adam Outland:

Wow. So you had this persistence.

Chris Hunter:

To give you and idea how aggressive or desperate

Chris Hunter:

interchange whatever word you want, I was at that time, there

Chris Hunter:

was this startup, there was this other startup vodka company that

Chris Hunter:

was very popular in Chicago was called effing vodka, they ended

Chris Hunter:

up becoming a pretty big brand. And I liked that brand. And I

Chris Hunter:

wanted to work for them. And I did the same thing with them. So

Chris Hunter:

much. So that I said, If I don't hear back from you, I will

Chris Hunter:

assume an interview on Tuesday at 10 o'clock. And I showed up

Chris Hunter:

at there, I never heard back from him. And I showed up their

Chris Hunter:

office. And no one was there, I left my resume on the desk and

Chris Hunter:

walked out. But like, that's how aggressive I was because I gotta

Chris Hunter:

eat, man, I gotta pay the bills.

Adam Outland:

That's amazing. It's who was that then the

Adam Outland:

person that you ended up with in terms of working on this on for

Adam Outland:

a logo or no?

Chris Hunter:

So I started selling vodka for this company.

Chris Hunter:

And they put me in quite possibly the most difficult

Chris Hunter:

situation that you can have, which is on premise, which is

Chris Hunter:

bars and nightclubs and restaurants in Chicago. And the

Chris Hunter:

reason it's the most difficult situations, because every brand

Chris Hunter:

is spending their money there that have big budgets, right.

Chris Hunter:

And so I was going in these places with no budgets and no

Chris Hunter:

experience, just ask him, you know, to believe my story or to

Chris Hunter:

believe in me and put the product in their in their

Chris Hunter:

stores. I did that for a couple months. Then he started

Chris Hunter:

expanding my responsibilities. So I managed off premise, which

Chris Hunter:

is stores, grocery stores, liquor stores, whatever may be

Chris Hunter:

in Illinois, and then they expanded me to five states. At

Chris Hunter:

that point, I realized that I understood at least enough the

Chris Hunter:

distribution game, you know, in alcohol, it's a three tier

Chris Hunter:

system. So you have the supplier, which is the creator

Chris Hunter:

of the product, you have the distributor, which takes the

Chris Hunter:

product to the bars of the store, and then you have this

Chris Hunter:

retail location. And so I understood that I met enough

Chris Hunter:

people, and I was selling a lot of the vodka that was being

Chris Hunter:

mixed in with Red Bull. I was 25. I was out also drinking a

Chris Hunter:

lot of vodka mixed in Red Bull. And so I said, you know, maybe

Chris Hunter:

we should try to do this as a combination ready to drink

Chris Hunter:

product. And so I called my old college buddy. He's the guy that

Chris Hunter:

I had tried to start wild havens with. And I said, Hey, I'm

Chris Hunter:

thinking to start in this thing. And he's like, yeah, man, he was

Chris Hunter:

part time in it a couple months in we realized neither of us

Chris Hunter:

really wanted to do the financial modeling and DAX and I

Chris Hunter:

had a buddy who worked for ABN AMRO, I called him and I said,

Chris Hunter:

Hey, what do you think? Yeah, man, and that's how we got

Chris Hunter:

started. Our investors were friends and family. You know,

Chris Hunter:

where I started being that I'm from Youngstown, blue collar,

Chris Hunter:

lower middle class there, there was no money from friends and

Chris Hunter:

family for me. Fortunately, my partner's both went to their

Chris Hunter:

families, and they put in small amounts of money in retrospect

Chris Hunter:

for the size the company became, but that was our investment. We

Chris Hunter:

didn't have the experience or the connections to really go

Chris Hunter:

raise traditional funding, and so we bootstrapped it and and

Chris Hunter:

that looking back luckily, we did because I think that had we

Chris Hunter:

had more money in the early days, we would have just spent

Chris Hunter:

more money on all the wrong things.

Adam Outland:

What were some of the walls and challenges that

Adam Outland:

you didn't expect in and growing this thing?

Chris Hunter:

Well, everyone had told me at the beginning, like,

Chris Hunter:

make sure you understand the exit. How do you guys separate

Chris Hunter:

in the future? And being naive 25 year olds, I think we just

Chris Hunter:

blew past that, hey, we're friends, who cares, it'll all

Chris Hunter:

work out. And quite frankly, like, I assumed I was kind of

Chris Hunter:

the connection point, right, I brought the two guys together, I

Chris Hunter:

assumed I would always kind of be in the majority with one of

Chris Hunter:

them. And it wasn't really a big deal. And so we just set up

Chris Hunter:

Legal Zoom documents that were very, like, basic. And it was

Chris Hunter:

kind of like majority rules. And in retrospect, you know, I

Chris Hunter:

learned that we should spend more time thinking that through

Chris Hunter:

we were not thinking big picture long term, things change, people

Chris Hunter:

change, lives change. I mean, mine Sure did, right. I was 25.

Chris Hunter:

At that time, in my 30s, I got married, I have three kids now,

Chris Hunter:

like life was very different. And that ended up coming back to

Chris Hunter:

bite me. So it was kinda like, let's just divide and conquer,

Chris Hunter:

right? Let's not, I have a different mentality than you.

Chris Hunter:

And instead of aligning or hashing through that, what do

Chris Hunter:

you do what you want your world and I'll do what I want my

Chris Hunter:

world. And we brought in the business coach when the company

Chris Hunter:

got bigger, and he identified that that was a significant

Chris Hunter:

threat to the business quickly, he said, You guys have a three

Chris Hunter:

headed monster with no real hierarchy. And if you can't

Chris Hunter:

figure this out, you're gonna sink the business, and it was

Chris Hunter:

too big for for us to sink at that time.

Adam Outland:

We're talking you grow into 10 million, 50 million

Adam Outland:

100 million in revenue, different challenges at

Adam Outland:

different points, right? Can you can you give a few examples of

Adam Outland:

like, what was challenging about getting to 10 million versus

Adam Outland:

what it was like going to 100?

Chris Hunter:

Yeah, it's all challenging, like you said, but

Chris Hunter:

it's just in different ways. And I think for me, that early stage

Chris Hunter:

of 1 million to 10 million is is challenging, but it's a lot of

Chris Hunter:

fun, because you're celebrating a lot of wins, often. Right?

Chris Hunter:

And, and you're trying new things, and you're able to be

Chris Hunter:

scrappy, and, and, and atypical in your approach and things. But

Chris Hunter:

it's difficult, right? Because it really matters. I mean, we

Chris Hunter:

were at Fusion, we were almost out of business for the first

Chris Hunter:

two years, consistently, right? month over month, there were

Chris Hunter:

times where we didn't take salaries. And so those are

Chris Hunter:

different challenges than when we went into hyper growth when

Chris Hunter:

we grew from eight to 100, and 150. Plus, in two years, like,

Chris Hunter:

those are different challenges. Those challenges are like, how

Chris Hunter:

do you keep your materials coming in? How do you keep

Chris Hunter:

inventory? How do you scale fast enough to support this kind of

Chris Hunter:

growth, right, and then, and then accoya, I would say, it was

Chris Hunter:

a little, it's a, it's been a little bit different as we went

Chris Hunter:

through that phase of going from 10 to 50. Plus, you're really

Chris Hunter:

putting in more infrastructure, and more systems. And to be

Chris Hunter:

quite honest, that's not what I love to do. And so it was really

Chris Hunter:

important for me to have a team that did love to do that. And I

Chris Hunter:

still gets funny, I still get frustrated with some of the

Chris Hunter:

systems that are in place. Like, who cares? Just, you know,

Chris Hunter:

whatever. And they're like, No, this is the process. Can you

Chris Hunter:

please follow us so they have to hold me accountable?

Adam Outland:

Do you feel like your gift is like you're the

Adam Outland:

resident Rainmaker, like bringing in connections and

Adam Outland:

relationships?

Chris Hunter:

Yeah, I think every founder and CEO are gonna

Chris Hunter:

have a different skill set. And that's something I didn't

Chris Hunter:

realize, as a kid, I thought, like the the role of founder or

Chris Hunter:

CEO was very well defined. It's not right. And so understanding

Chris Hunter:

where I add the most value has been really important to me. And

Chris Hunter:

it's definitely that it's, I am a salesperson, I enjoy marketing

Chris Hunter:

and finding unique ways to build awareness. And then I enjoy

Chris Hunter:

working on strategic partnerships and high level

Chris Hunter:

relationships. And so, like, where that comes into play, and

Chris Hunter:

is the most effective for the company, would be the example

Chris Hunter:

would be Koya. With Starbucks, you know, I knew that Koya was a

Chris Hunter:

fit for Starbucks, I knew it's somewhere that we wanted that

Chris Hunter:

product to be distributed since day one. So eight years ago, I

Chris Hunter:

started working on how do we get into Starbucks. And we had

Chris Hunter:

plenty of starts and stops along the way, I never gave that up.

Chris Hunter:

As to one of our sales team, I said, this is my account that

Chris Hunter:

I'm going to figure out. And it was definitely not a linear

Chris Hunter:

path. But I was able to strike a strategic partnership with

Chris Hunter:

Starbucks, and koi is now distributed in Starbucks

Chris Hunter:

nationwide. Those are the kinds of things that one excite me and

Chris Hunter:

two, I feel like I can do and maybe you can't hire others to

Chris Hunter:

do on the team. I love that. Look, there are in sales, there

Chris Hunter:

are hunters and there are gatherers, the way we think

Chris Hunter:

about it right in the hunter, I not only my last name, but I am

Chris Hunter:

the hunter, right I like enjoy going and creating the new

Chris Hunter:

relationships and striking the new deals. And that's a lot of

Chris Hunter:

fun for a lot of people. There are other people who are

Chris Hunter:

gatherers and they enjoy optimizing those relationships

Chris Hunter:

and building on them. And there's a lot of things that a

Chris Hunter:

lot of us can do. But it doesn't mean we shouldn't do right and

Chris Hunter:

so I can do that but it's not the highest and best use of of

Chris Hunter:

my time or skills.

Adam Outland:

Selling isn't just an external thing right? Finding

Adam Outland:

partnerships and selling and bringing in business is super

Adam Outland:

important. But sales is a skill in general about communication.

Adam Outland:

And you end up in leadership, finding yourself selling the

Adam Outland:

vision to your people or selling lots of things internally right

Adam Outland:

to get it done. And I'm kind of curious. I mean, one thing that

Adam Outland:

popped out to me was the government regulations and a

Adam Outland:

little battle that you got to kind of jump back into what you

Adam Outland:

faced when you were, you know, faced with some sort of the

Adam Outland:

government agencies trying to keep for local, legal, right.

Adam Outland:

How did your communication skills? How was that relevant in

Adam Outland:

that in that issue?

Chris Hunter:

Yeah, it's a complex question. And situation

Chris Hunter:

that was very intense, as you can imagine, but trying to

Chris Hunter:

summarize it up in a nutshell, it was really important for us

Chris Hunter:

to get aligned on how we were going to address these

Chris Hunter:

situations. They were very serious, right to the point

Chris Hunter:

where we were being sued by the FDA, that B, which governs

Chris Hunter:

alcohol 18 Attorney General's, there were frivolous lawsuits,

Chris Hunter:

class action lawsuits coming out of the woodwork, there was a

Chris Hunter:

point where I was told by our legal representative

Chris Hunter:

representation, don't answer the door, because you may get served

Chris Hunter:

papers or arrested, right, it was that intense. And so for us

Chris Hunter:

looking back at it, or at least for me, looking back at it, I

Chris Hunter:

was baffled because we played by the rules, our our beverage was

Chris Hunter:

approved by the TTB. It was approved by every state that it

Chris Hunter:

went into that included the formulas, the cans, everything

Chris Hunter:

that we're being criticized for, was legally approved. And so

Chris Hunter:

they had they it broad sensitives had applied pressure

Chris Hunter:

to other brewers that were doing similar things, and they were

Chris Hunter:

much larger than us. And so for them, it was like this isn't

Chris Hunter:

worth, you know, the juice isn't worth the squeeze. And so they

Chris Hunter:

just voluntarily reformulated and changed the products that

Chris Hunter:

were selling. For us, it was the only thing we were selling. And

Chris Hunter:

so our take was, hey, we will play by whatever rules you put

Chris Hunter:

out there. But you have to make them consistent and fair.

Chris Hunter:

Because if we voluntarily change, all that does is leave

Chris Hunter:

the door open for the next person to come along and do it

Chris Hunter:

until they get big, right. So in terms of communication, it

Chris Hunter:

really tested us with my theory is like high highs and low lows

Chris Hunter:

will bond you right? They're extreme, and they're intense.

Chris Hunter:

And it's easy to get along during those times. But it

Chris Hunter:

doesn't mean it's easy to communicate during those times.

Chris Hunter:

We were running a breakneck pace. We were trying to approach

Chris Hunter:

everything in a line fashion, but it didn't always happen. And

Chris Hunter:

so our communication could have been better. Or we got through

Chris Hunter:

it.

Adam Outland:

Literally some life changing moments during

Adam Outland:

that time for you.

Chris Hunter:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Adam Outland:

I guess one of the more recent ventures was not

Adam Outland:

your father's root beer.

Chris Hunter:

Yeah. So I start to look at, I started to look at

Chris Hunter:

what assets we had as a company, right. And it's very easy to

Chris Hunter:

understand that you have the brand with the revenue and the

Chris Hunter:

distribution, that's clearly an asset that most people look at.

Chris Hunter:

And understand. We added another asset, which was we had roughly

Chris Hunter:

325 distributors across the country and some in other

Chris Hunter:

countries that touched every retail location in their

Chris Hunter:

territory. So we had a distribution network. I'm not

Chris Hunter:

saying we owned it, but we had access, right. And so as I was

Chris Hunter:

thinking about, we had this big company, relatively big company

Chris Hunter:

and big brand, or relatively big brand that was almost taken away

Chris Hunter:

from us at the whim of a change of government regulations. How

Chris Hunter:

do we diversify? So innovation and diversifying was really

Chris Hunter:

important? And then the second is how do we use our assets? And

Chris Hunter:

so for me, at that time, craft beer was a hottest thing in the

Chris Hunter:

world, right? Everyone was launching craft beers. But there

Chris Hunter:

were there were a lot of the same. There were unique stories.

Chris Hunter:

Oh, this one's from Chicago. This one's from San Diego, but

Chris Hunter:

the product itself was not really that different. And so we

Chris Hunter:

were really lucky that we were introduced to one of our

Chris Hunter:

relationships to a guy named Tim Kovac, who was this like kind of

Chris Hunter:

mad scientist Brewer and he had come up with this alcoholic Root

Chris Hunter:

Beer it had no name it had no real and and he was in the

Chris Hunter:

Chicagoland area. And when I tried this stuff I it was this

Chris Hunter:

like the light bulb went off. It was this immediate realization

Chris Hunter:

of this is unique needs in the craft beer space, which is

Chris Hunter:

popular, this is unique. No one else is doing this right now.

Chris Hunter:

And it's in our wheelhouse, because what we really did with

Chris Hunter:

for locals around flavoring, right. And so for me, that was

Chris Hunter:

exciting. It was something new, as I mentioned earlier, like

Chris Hunter:

creating something new. And so this was really exciting. So

Chris Hunter:

there was also some internal turmoil developing as I

Chris Hunter:

mentioned about partnerships and lack of clarity of roles. And so

Chris Hunter:

I said, I'm gonna dive into this, and I dove into that, and

Chris Hunter:

when we brought that thing to life, it was one of the most

Chris Hunter:

exciting things I've ever seen. We took it from non existent to

Chris Hunter:

uniquely branded and to being the fastest growing craft beer

Chris Hunter:

in the country in a matter of 18 months and then we ended up

Chris Hunter:

selling had to pass. The other thing that was exciting to me

Chris Hunter:

about that. As I mentioned, I like to work on things. I'm

Chris Hunter:

aligned with it. Whatever phase of life I'm in. That was 25.

Chris Hunter:

When we started Four Loko, caffeine and alcohol didn't seem

Chris Hunter:

crazy, it was part of, you know, our weekends. At this point I

Chris Hunter:

was I was early 30s. And craft beer was much more by speed. So

Chris Hunter:

you know, that was kind of an exciting evolution and then

Chris Hunter:

again, realizing where I was in life and circumstances got me

Chris Hunter:

into a place where better for you and healthy products were

Chris Hunter:

really important to me.

Adam Outland:

That's so interesting. It's It's like your

Adam Outland:

beverages reflect your your state in life like now you see I

Adam Outland:

energy like go get it in the beginning. And there's more like

Adam Outland:

this calm, healthy. Yes, yeah. I love the bound and gravitated

Adam Outland:

towards things that reflected that for you, right, that you

Adam Outland:

pursue products that you were passionate about for you. Just

Adam Outland:

quick lightning round. One thing that I always wanted to know

Adam Outland:

from guests is what's one piece of advice you're really glad you

Adam Outland:

didn't listen to.

Chris Hunter:

So it's, it's something I'm actually working

Chris Hunter:

through right now. Koia is a refrigerated plant based protein

Chris Hunter:

drink, it's a ready to drink product. So bought off the

Chris Hunter:

shelf, you open it, you can drink it right away. It's

Chris Hunter:

delicious. It's it's low sugar, it's all the things that you

Chris Hunter:

wouldn't expect when you hear plant based protein drink,

Chris Hunter:

right. And the refrigerated space is very niche. In a sense,

Chris Hunter:

it takes additional capabilities to have refrigeration from

Chris Hunter:

production all the way to the shelf. It's a very competitive

Chris Hunter:

and difficult category. And so we've heard from multiple people

Chris Hunter:

throughout the years, like, Okay, you guys are a

Chris Hunter:

refrigerated beverage. That's where you need to stay. And over

Chris Hunter:

the years, as we've talked to our consumers and listen to them

Chris Hunter:

and understood innovations that worked and didn't, we realized

Chris Hunter:

that what qualia really stands for is delicious plant protein

Chris Hunter:

or delicious pork protein in general, we are now launching

Chris Hunter:

Koya. in different formats and channels, we have a shelf stable

Chris Hunter:

tetrapack version that will be available on Amazon, we're

Chris Hunter:

launching a kid's line will launch a powder. And so the

Chris Hunter:

advice that I'm happy we didn't follow in the long run was

Chris Hunter:

staying in our lane.

Adam Outland:

So you listen to someone but the advice that

Adam Outland:

you're taking is from your customers and their

Adam Outland:

accessibility, not necessarily from some consultant. Love that.

Adam Outland:

One of the things that I think is a lot of our listeners wonder

Adam Outland:

is when you're dealing with a large organization, large team

Adam Outland:

and you're responsible for leading it time is one of the

Adam Outland:

most scarce resources that you have. Yeah, what's one habit or

Adam Outland:

practice that you feel saves you the most time each day?

Chris Hunter:

Well, I try and I'm not always successful at

Chris Hunter:

this, I try to block my emails. And what I mean by blocking them

Chris Hunter:

is I try to dig in emails and run through them all and then

Chris Hunter:

try to go do something else. And I'm not always successful at it.

Chris Hunter:

But when I do that, I feel like I have the most satisfaction and

Chris Hunter:

productivity and the least anxiety, what can suck me in or

Chris Hunter:

anyone is just sitting in front of your computer and hitting

Chris Hunter:

refresh on the email box. Like if I find myself doing that, I

Chris Hunter:

usually need to just pick up the phone and call that person

Chris Hunter:

rather than going back and forth. So that's that's one

Chris Hunter:

thing. I think one of the things I've learned over time is is

Chris Hunter:

prioritization is really important. And for me, this is

Chris Hunter:

the season of life that my family is absolutely the number

Chris Hunter:

one priority. I'm married, I have three kids, 11, nine, and

Chris Hunter:

six. And when I sat back and thought about it, I realized

Chris Hunter:

that I will always be able to create brands, I will always be

Chris Hunter:

able to grow them. And while I'm not neglecting them, I also

Chris Hunter:

realized that my children will only be this age once. So when I

Chris Hunter:

have something that can do for the long run, and I have another

Chris Hunter:

thing that is only once, I'm going to make sure that I

Chris Hunter:

prioritize and focus on that only once thing.

Adam Outland:

I love that too. Yeah, you brought at the very

Adam Outland:

beginning of this podcast. He said, as a young man, success

Adam Outland:

meant to you making as much money as possible. That's

Adam Outland:

paraphrase. But you said money was number one, define what

Adam Outland:

success means to you now and how you know when you've achieved

Adam Outland:

it.

Chris Hunter:

So that's a great question that I think has

Chris Hunter:

multiple aspects to it. I think first of all, the most important

Chris Hunter:

thing for me was learning and understanding who I am. And when

Chris Hunter:

I when we brought in this consultant back at Fusion

Chris Hunter:

projects, he did these personality assessments and

Chris Hunter:

behavioral assessments, the one we did was called disc, and

Chris Hunter:

there's many of them. And he came back to me at that point

Chris Hunter:

and he said, Listen, if you have this perception of getting rich

Chris Hunter:

and retiring on a boat, get rid of it right now because you will

Chris Hunter:

be drunk, you will be addicted you will be divorced and you

Chris Hunter:

will be miserable. That's just my personality. Right? And so

Chris Hunter:

that was really impactful to me because it helped me realize

Chris Hunter:

like where I grew up success look like oh, you get to retire

Chris Hunter:

on a beach, drink a margarita and you don't have any worries.

Chris Hunter:

That would actually be detrimental to me. And so

Chris Hunter:

success means that I can stay in the mix work on things I want to

Chris Hunter:

work on not need to work on anything. But But enjoy what I'm

Chris Hunter:

doing every day staying active. And I think that not only will

Chris Hunter:

keep me healthy, it'll keep me alive.

Adam Outland:

And so you've come to really enjoy the game itself.

Chris Hunter:

Trust me, there are days that I'm like, Oh man,

Chris Hunter:

I'm in too deep again, you know, it happens. You get blinders on

Chris Hunter:

running a business, you forget about everything else in the

Chris Hunter:

world. And sometimes that's necessary. But in the big

Chris Hunter:

picture, yes. What What I enjoy now is growth. And growth is not

Chris Hunter:

comfortable. You know, I went to Iceland and trained on breath

Chris Hunter:

work and cold water exposure. Those are all just got done

Chris Hunter:

marathons. And Ironman is those are all growth opportunities for

Chris Hunter:

me. I want to I learn from my kids every day. That's growth.

Chris Hunter:

And I'm learning in business every day. And that's growth and

Chris Hunter:

growth is really important. And also keeps me motivated.

Adam Outland:

Two last quick questions; one morning routine,

Adam Outland:

but what does it look like in the morning if you have your

Adam Outland:

ideal routine?

Chris Hunter:

I'll tell you when it's been in this best. And when

Chris Hunter:

it's been at its worst. So my wife got really into Joe

Chris Hunter:

Dispenza meditations. And so we woke up every day at 6am. We

Chris Hunter:

meditated for about a half hour and then we got our day started.

Chris Hunter:

And we were done meditating, and off like the day before the kids

Chris Hunter:

ever woke up. At night, we would take time after we put the kids

Chris Hunter:

to bed, that was our time to catch up on the day and talk

Chris Hunter:

those are two really important things. That's when it looks at

Chris Hunter:

its best. Of course, you add in eating healthy and exercise and

Chris Hunter:

all that all that stuff, I think which is kind of table stakes.

Chris Hunter:

At its worst, which I go through times now is one of them. You

Chris Hunter:

know, I'm waking up just before the kids, I'm getting five

Chris Hunter:

minutes in with my wife, I'm down to the coffee to get myself

Chris Hunter:

going and kind of frantic all day. It's never perfect for me.

Chris Hunter:

And but the beauty I guess is I can realize when it's not

Chris Hunter:

perfect and adjust rather than just think that's how it is

Chris Hunter:

forever.

Adam Outland:

I'm gonna rephrase this question I typically ask

Adam Outland:

her yes for you. Typically, I might ask you, you know, what

Adam Outland:

advice would you give a 21 year old version of yourself, but I'm

Adam Outland:

going to change it and say, what's the piece of advice or

Adam Outland:

the value you really hope to instill in your kids?

Chris Hunter:

Those are those would probably be the same

Chris Hunter:

answers. And I think they are be willing to take risks. And just

Chris Hunter:

take the first step. I will caveat that by saying the

Chris Hunter:

biggest mistakes I've made in my career have all been when I

Chris Hunter:

thought it was going to be easy when I didn't put in the work

Chris Hunter:

and I wasn't going to be committed for the long haul. So

Chris Hunter:

I think there's real value and really digging into what you're

Chris Hunter:

about to do or what you're considering doing what you think

Chris Hunter:

it's going to take. Do you want to do it you know, asking

Chris Hunter:

yourself all those questions up front. But don't get paralyzed

Chris Hunter:

by analysis. Take the first step because you know, whatever plan

Chris Hunter:

you put together, whatever path you think you're going to take,

Chris Hunter:

it's absolutely going to be wrong on day one. So just jump

Chris Hunter:

in. Just start be open to making mistakes, be open to learning

Chris Hunter:

and course correcting right, because progress is the key

Chris Hunter:

there is no perfection.

Adam Outland:

it's so interesting that so many people

Adam Outland:

I did miss identify failure and mistakes, right? Like they think

Adam Outland:

failure is this horrible thing that they shouldn't avoid at all

Adam Outland:

costs. And from experience interviewing all of these

Adam Outland:

brilliant people like yourself, who've built multiple successful

Adam Outland:

enterprises failure is something that almost you have to embrace.

Chris Hunter:

Yeah, a reframe of that is is that a reframe of

Chris Hunter:

that, for me is that it's only really a failure if you don't

Chris Hunter:

learn from it. And so, you know, we choose to look at life as

Chris Hunter:

life is happening for us, not to us. And so when you look at

Chris Hunter:

things through that lens, what could be perceived as a failure

Chris Hunter:

or a setback can also be perceived as the best redirect

Chris Hunter:

you could ever have. And that one that you may not have

Chris Hunter:

chosen, or purposely self imposed, but it was imposed for

Chris Hunter:

a reason. And so if you look for that reason, and you go with the

Chris Hunter:

idea that life is happening for me, you can start to find the

Chris Hunter:

silver linings and the beauty in it.

Adam Outland:

Life is happening for you. I really like that one

Adam Outland:

I'm going to take that was me, Chris, this has been fantastic

Adam Outland:

interview I know you just mentioned and published this

Adam Outland:

book blackout punch and entrepreneurs journey from chaos

Adam Outland:

to clarity, which I think will be great for so many of our

Adam Outland:

listeners, because that's the journey many of them are on. So

Adam Outland:

thanks for giving us some of your wisdom here today and some

Adam Outland:

anecdotes for our folks to take home with them.

Chris Hunter:

Yeah, it was fun. Thanks for having me on. I

Chris Hunter:

appreciate it.

Chapters

Video

More from YouTube